Visit Finland in winter and you’ll get an idea of why Finns are rated amongst the healthiest people on the planet. No, it has nothing to do with their admittedly excellent health care system, in my opinion. Here are my top reasons, in order of… nothing.
Clothing. If you wore 17 layers of clothes every day just to go from your house to Helsinki’s wonderful bus or trolley system, you’d burn calories faster than a mouse on a treadmill. In Lapland, it’s 26 layers and waddling is a proven calorie-burner.
Walking. Finns walk everywhere. If they don’t walk they ski. Or snowshoe. Or, in Lapland, maybe hitch up a dog team and run it 50 kilometers to the grocery store. Apparently, those activities are good for the heart.
Walking on Helsinki sidewalks. If New Yorkers had to put up with walking on snow-covered sidewalks like Helsinkians do, there would be a major revolution from my friends in Brooklyn. Fuggedaboudit. I spent three days in Helsinki and during that time it snowed twice. Amazingly, very, very few storekeepers bothered to shovel, even in major shopping districts. Since it is so cold, the snow does not turn to wet slush. Instead it pulverizes into a grungy, sand-like quality. Ever try walking on a sandy beach? This alone makes Finns strong like bulls. This is just a small example of what I mean, two days after a snowfall.
Sauna. Finns will sauna at the drop of a hat… or clothes. Trust me on this one.
Fish. Finns eat fish. Lots of fish. I had steamed salmon, grilled salmon, smoked salmon, broiled salmon, salmon salad, even poached salmon. Having gills must take a load off one’s lungs.
Reindeer. Finns also eat a lot of reindeer, so there must be something healthy about it, too. I wonder if they abstain around Christmas time?
Cold Air. When it’s -35C outside in winter, it tends to weed out the weaker members of the species. Those left standing are called Finns.
So, that’s my health report from Finland. And, please pass the tartar sauce.